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2017 NFL Preview: 5 Bold Predictions 0

Posted on September 09, 2017 by Dean Hybl
One big question for 2017 is whether Marshawn Lynch can regain his past Beast Mode greatness after sitting out 2016.

One big question for 2017 is whether Marshawn Lynch can regain his past Beast Mode greatness after sitting out 2016.

The 2017 NFL season got off to an interesting start on Thursday night when the defending champion New England Patriots gave up three fourth quarter touchdowns in a 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

As we kickoff the full schedule Sunday, below are five bold predictions for the season as well as my picks for the playoffs and Super Bowl.

1. The 1972 Miami Dolphins Can Pop The Champagne Now – Based on some of their off-season moves, some thought that ten years after their undefeated regular season the New England Patriots might be poised for another run at perfection.

Well, that thought didn’t last long. The Chiefs exposed the New England defense and the offense showed that the losses of receiver Julian Edelman to injury and running back LeGarrette Blount to the Philadelphia Eagles are harder to replace than might have been expected.

While there are several other teams with talented rosters, including the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons, no team looks good enough to be a legitimate threat to perfection.

What may be in jeopardy this season is the 0-16 mark that has been achieved only once, by the Detroit Lions in 2008. While the Cleveland Browns, who went 1-15 last season, appear to be better and will probably win 3-4 games, the New York Jets could be a threat for dubious perfection. They have unloaded a number of talented veterans from their 5-11 team from last season and could struggle every week in 2017.

2. Ezekiel Elliott Will Struggle – After a Federal Judge granted the request by the NFLPA for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of a six-game suspension for running back Ezekiel Elliott, it looks like the second year running back for the Dallas Cowboys could play the entire 2017 season.

Last year Elliott took the NFL by storm as he led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards while helping the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.

His off-season has not been as smooth. Elliott has been involved in a number of off-the-field incidents during his brief career and that culminated with a six game suspension from the NFL in August.

Though Elliott may avoid missing time due to the suspension in 2017, it doesn’t mean that the off-the-field issues will not be a distraction. Many players throughout NFL history have been unable to repeat great rookie seasons without the added pressure of the national media spotlight that Elliott has endured in recent weeks and will likely see throughout the season.

While having the great Dallas offensive line will certainly help, it would not be a surprise to see Elliott’s numbers decline a bit in 2017. Read the rest of this entry →

4 Futuristic Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Pro Sports 0

Posted on September 07, 2017 by Dixie Somers

4 Futuristic Technologies That are Revolutionizing Pro SportsTechnology is part of everyday life now, whether it is the app you access on your smartphone to adjust your thermostat when you are not home or the Bluetooth you use for a business meeting while you are on the road. Professional sports are no exception when it comes to technology as these four innovative products demonstrate.

Blast Resistant Football Fields

A private company that makes automotive materials for the military has applied the technology used to protect soldiers to football fields. Viconic created a mat underlay that would go underneath turf on a professional football field that would help protect players from injury when their body violently hits the ground. The mat is only usable on artificial turf fields which cause the most injuries to players. In a demonstration, a weight the size of a human head was dropped on a patch of turf without the underlay, creating a loud, sickening thud. When the same weight was dropped on an area with the underlay, the sound was softer and seemed to be less brutal. The hope is that the mat will reduce the incidence of concussion and other injuries from players coming in contact with the hard turf field.

Virtual Reality

Many NFL and NCAA teams are using virtual reality to train players. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Dartmouth and the University of Arkansas have turned to virtual reality as a training method. Systems include VR goggles, accessories and other applications, an industry that is expected to grow by 142 percent over the next few years. Quarterbacks can watch themselves in prerecorded drills and plays to get a better handle on their movement and footwork. Players are also able to break down the game films of opponents. After using virtual reality methods, Stanford’s starting quarterback, Kevin Hogan, increased his completion percentage from 63.8 percent to 76.3 percent. Read the rest of this entry →

Original Patriot: Gino Cappelletti 2

Posted on September 03, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Gino Cappelletti

Gino Cappelletti

In recognition of the start of football season, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is one of the original stars for the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

In many ways, Gino Cappelletti epitomized the early years of the American Football League. While the NFL was becoming more specialized and tougher to break into, the AFL provided former college stars with a new place to play and its “wild west” mentality allowed players to contribute in a wide variety of ways. Read the rest of this entry →

Will This Finally Be the Year for Jerry Kramer? 5

Posted on August 26, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

In 1969, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer was selected as the greatest offensive lineman of the first 50 years of the NFL. Unless the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee commits a true travesty next February, Kramer will finally be selected to the Hall of Fame as the NFL completes its 98th season.

Much has been written on this site and in many others over the years about how ridiculous it was that Kramer continued to be overlooked for the Hall of Fame. After retiring from the NFL in 1968, Kramer was first a finalist for the HOF in 1974 and was a regular selection finalist nine times between 1974 and 1987 and was also a senior finalist in 1997.

Each time, Kramer failed to the necessary support from the selection committee to earn enshrinement.

Over time, it went from Kramer being an obvious pick, to a theory that there were already a large number of 1960s Packers to in recent year’s disbelief at some of the players and contributors earning induction while Kramer continued to be on the outside.

It has gotten over the last decade to the point where almost every list that looks at potential Hall of Fame candidates listed Kramer as the most deserving player not currently enshrined.

Yet, since 2010 there have been a number of “head scratching” selections, especially among senior candidates (players retired 25 years or more). None of the senior players selected since 2010 were members of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team or had played on more than three NFL Championship teams. Read the rest of this entry →

Get Your Tailgate Ready: Preparing Your Car for the Big Game 2

Posted on August 21, 2017 by Dixie Somers

Tailgating-1Some die hard football fans will visit the stadium without even having a ticket to get in. That’s because it can be just as fun, if not more fun, to tailgate and watch the game from the comforts of your own car. In fact, 42 percent of tailgaters spend over $500 a season making sure everything is just right. When the NFL season kicks off, more and more fans will be busy all Sunday long packing, prepping, and enjoying tailgate parties. If you’re going to be hosting your own tailgate party in your special stall, here are some tips to prepare your car:

Cargo Carrier Complete With Hitch

You might be able to fit some of the key items that you’ll need for the big day in your trunk, but you’ll probably need a cargo carrier if you’re throwing a sizable party. When you have the portable sun shades, seating, a smoker, a barbecue, tables, and all of the fine linen that you need to set the mood, you’ll need space. Make sure you have a cargo carrier that’s compatible with the hitch on your vehicle. Check out sizes, weights, and designs to see which one will have the right capacity.

Air Compressors for Inflation

Flat tires can flatten the mood. If you have an air compressor with you, you don’t have to deflate the fun just because you have a flat. These tools are also handy when you need to inflate balls, seats, and anything else. Simply plug into the AC adapter, and you’ll have air in seconds. You can go to a place like U Pull & Pay if you need other car parts for the big day.

A Toolbox BBQ Kit

If you want to get a little creative, you can make your very own toolbox BBQ kit so that you have everything you need while you’re slathering the best meats with BBQ sauce. Include everything you have to have from a spatula and lighter to matches and tongs, and you won’t have to turn around on your way to your lucky parking spot. Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Sports Movies: Paper Lion 8

Posted on August 13, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Harvard educated writer George Plimpton braved the world of the NFL in the 1960s.

Harvard educated writer George Plimpton braved the world of the NFL in th e 1960s.

In today’s world where Hard Knocks and other similar programs have made it easy for football fans to gain access into the huddle and locker rooms of pro football, it is hard to imagine a time when such access was not the norm. In the 1960s, Sports Illustrated writer George Plimpton went to great extremes to give fans a glimpse into life in the NFL.

When the book and movie Paper Lion came out in the 1960s, it was lauded for getting under the helmet of NFL players.

Plimpton, a Harvard educated writer who looked more like a math teacher than an athlete, was a master at experiential writing and combined his love of sports with a surprising fearlessness to create a number of great experiences and books.

He pitched to baseball All-Stars, got in the ring with boxing champions and in 1963 spent training camp as a quarterback with the Detroit Lions.

The ensuing articles and book gave readers a glimpse into the personalities of NFL players. Though the Detroit Lions were perhaps not one of the NFL’s “glamour” teams of the era, Plimpton brought to life the personalities of players including Milt Plum, Dick “Night Train” Lane (who had retired by 1967, but has a cameo appearance in the movie as a practice video operator), Wayne Walker and Joe Schmidt.

In 1968, the book was turned into a movie starring future M*A*S*H star Alan Alda as Plimpton.

The interesting thing about the movie is that instead of trying to stick exactly to the players and stories of the original book, it took the general concept, but used players and coaches available with the Lions in 1967.

By that time, future Hall of Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt had transitioned from an active player to head coach and defensive tackle Alex Karras, who as referenced in the book, but was suspended by the NFL in 1963 and therefore not at training camp, was back with the Lions and a prominent character in the movie. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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